POLKTON, NC (WBTV) - The close and medium custody portions of Lanesboro Correctional Institution in Anson County will be converted to a female facility in the coming months, leadership with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced Monday.
The move was first announced to employees in a letter sent by Reuben Young, the Interim Chief Deputy Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
In his letter, Young said the current male population in the close and medium custody portions of Lanesboro will be moved to the Southern Correctional Institution in Montgomery County and Eastern Correctional Institution in Greene County, which are both currently female facilities.
The existing minimum security units at Lanesboro and Southern prisons will remain and inmates in those facilities will continue working through inmate labor contracts, the letter said.
Young's letter said the decision to repurpose Lanesboro as a female facility was driven by safety concerns.
"Prisons management believes there are many benefits to these facility conversions," Young said in the letter. "Splitting the large male population from Lanesboro into smaller, more manageable populations promotes improved safety and security within a correctional setting, which is agency leadership's highest priority."
The move to address safety concerns comes as DPS leadership grapples with ongoing problems at Lanesboro and prisons across the state.
Five prison employees were killed on the job in 2017.
At least 16 prison employees have been injured by attacks from inmates on the job since February of this year, including at Lanesboro.
Previously, prison leaders have refused requests from WBTV to answer questions in an on-camera interview; lied about staff being attacked at a prison in February; and forced a WBTV cameraman to stop recording video of Lanesboro prison and leave the publicly-accessible parking lot.
In his letter on Monday, Young said the conversion of Lanesboro and the other facilities is expected to be budget neutral. The letter said staff would have the opportunity to move to new prisons as openings allow.
In addition to converting the prison from male to female, prison leaders also announced Lanesboro would change its name to Anson Correctional Institution "in order to promote a new culture and environment."